Squamish Nation embarks on ambitious plan to become one of largest developers in Canada
The Squamish Nation announced Wednesday it intends to undertake comprehensive developments on 350-acres of land spread on several parcels in North and West Vancouver, Squamish and on the Sunshine Coast.
Over the next 12 months the nation and Nch’ḵay̓, its development corporation, will complete a comprehensive evaluation of the various sites to come up with plans for the best possible use at each specific location.
Those uses could include residential, commercial and industrial and some sites could be mixed-use.
“For a long time, the fight was to get a seat at the table but where we are going now is that we’re actually going to be the ones creating the table and inviting others to sit at our table,” said Khelsilem, elected chairperson of the Squamish Nation.
“All of these things require partnerships. We won’t be able to do it alone. They all require municipal service agreements, they require financing, they require all kinds of business partnerships for procurement and contracting and other things.”
The announcement comes as excavation and early phases of construction continue at Sen̓áḵw, the development on Squamish reserve land at the south end of the Burrard Bridge.
Eventually Sen̓áḵw, which is billed as the largest First Nations economic development project in Canadian history, will feature more than 6,000 rental homes in 11 towers.
Mindy Wight, CEO of Nch’ḵay̓ says the process undertaken over the next year will provide insight into how dense development could be at some of the future projects.
“We are keenly aware of the housing shortage and the crisis that’s facing the Lower Mainland and this forms part of the solution,” Wight said. “It will be addressed as part of the work that we are going to undertake.”
For projects on reserve lands, the Squamish are not obligated to conform to the local land use planning process of municipal governments.
Those lands fall outside of municipal jurisdiction and their use is at the sole discretion of the Squamish Nation and its development corporation – although it will need to develop service agreements with adjacent municipalities as it did with Vancouver as part of the Sen̓áḵw development.
Municipalities, corporations and individuals have long profited off the development of lands that fall within the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Squamish Nation.
CTV News asked Khelsilem if the developments to be undertaken are part of a process of reclaiming power for the Squamish Nation.
“There’s a history of where we’ve been and the things that have happened that really denied or delayed the success of our community. The challenges, the roadblocks that were put up, the injustices that happened that really set our people back,” he said.
“We’re actually going to be in the driver’s seat to shape the future of our cities and what they look like, and what they feel like and who lives there. It’s exciting for us to be able to do that kind of work.”
The Squamish Nation and Nch’ḵay̓ say in approximately 12 months time they will publically present more comprehensive plans for the sites along with an approximate timetable for when various developments could begin and be completed.
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